Blood centers issue urgent appeal for donors
URBANA — With her latest blood donation, Abby Groth reached the 1-gallon mark. Not that she plans to stop there.
"My grandpa gave blood for years and years, and he probably gave gallons," says Groth, 26, a blood donor since her student days at Champaign Central High School. "He's probably my inspiration."
What blood centers need right now are a lot of people like Groth and her grandpa.
Both Community Blood Services of Illinois, where Groth was a donor Thursday, and the American Red Cross have issued urgent calls for donations.
It was the second time this month both agencies have asked donors to please step up to avert a shortage.
Donations are down for Community Blood Services by 20 percent for the past eight weeks, and for the Red Cross by 8 percent for the past 11 weeks, the two agencies say.
The Red Cross says its decline is from 80,000 fewer donations than expected.
Neither agency has an actual shortage yet, but the Red Cross says it could experience an emergency situation in upcoming weeks.
Community Blood Services is concerned about being able to meet the blood needs of area hospitals while facing yet another three-day holiday weekend, when donations tend dip.
"We're already looking ahead to Labor Day weekend and saying, we don't want to go into that weekend with a deficit already," said Carrie Johnston, donor relations manager.
What's squeezing blood centers is partly the typical seasonal shortage: They're unable to schedule blood drives at high schools and colleges during the summertime and regular donors go away on vacations. But this summer, they also lost collection days during a three-day July 4 weekend less than two months after a three-day Memorial Day weekend that has caused a low rescheduling rate for donors giving blood every eight weeks, according to Community Blood Services.
All blood types are needed, but especially needed at Community are more donations from blood types O-negative and AB.
The Red Cross also is in special need of O-negative, plus types A-negative and B-negative.
Squeamish about blood and needles?
"There's really nothing scary about it. You don't even have to see the blood if you don't want to," says Groth, who just finished her master's degree in art history at the University of Illinois.
The needle stick takes "literally a second" and "sort of feels like you're being pinched," she says.
When her donation is completed, she raises her arms above her heart for a minute or so, to help stop the bleeding, then she's offered a beverage and heads off for some apple juice.
"To me, this is one of the easiest ways to help other people," she says.